The Best and the Worst – so far.
Here are a list of the best places along the route and their contact information, we highly recommend these establishments and, unfortunately, received no knock-backs for passing on the good word.
Fubar, Kashgar branch.
This place is amazing! It is the only foreigner-run eatery in Kashgar, and their attention to detail meant that nothing was left undone. Here we dined on Pizza, Gin&Tonics and played board games. Conveniently located in central Kashgar, all the cab drivers know the spot. After multiple days in the desert, this oasis is worth the visit.
Kashgar Old Town Hostel.
This hostel was once a mosque, now converted into a multi-room dorm house with 6 or 8 beds per room. The Chinese youth who runs the place is a wealth of information and has great local contacts if you are looking for travel information. We definitely recommend staying here over the Semen Hotel, as rooms are 35RMB a night rather than 150. Meanwhile, the location is primo- a 5 minute walk from Edgar Mosque in central Old Town.
MaiTian Youth Hostel.
Located near Renmin Park in Urumqi, the Maitian youth hostel is a bit more rugged than others but for 40RMB a night it is passable. A bit pricey for what you get (6,8 bed gender-divided dorm rooms) the place has a decent location and is a wealth of information. The Chinese running the place seem hesitant to be helpful and are dismissive of any problems, but if you are a survivalist, this is a good spot to sojourn a few nights. Just be aware that the staff run this place like their personal club house and will be on the internet at all hours (rendering it useless) and screaming up and down the halls when they get on duty (promptly at 8).
Windows Scoreboard, Shanghai, China.
I am hesitant to write about this gem because I do not want it flooded with tourists. However, if you want a taste of home check out this hard-to-find windows location on HuaiHai lu (Near Sinan Lu). The lowest prices of any bar in China and a great atmosphere with a mixed crowd of Chinese, Thai, Western and African. A beer will set you back 10RMB.
And, sadly, here are a list of establishments to be avoided, and explanations as to why they definitely do not rock.
Fubar, Urumqi branch.
While the Kashgar branch rocks, this one is located on a bar street and competes with other, better equipped bars. Meanwhile, their serve a lousy pour, the staff are rude, loud and negligent, and the published address all over the internet is not correct. Meanwhile, they were without power when we arrived and had a noisy generated sitting, chained, to the front door as a back-up plan.
Silver (White) Birches Youth Hostel, Urumqi, China.
This shoddy establishment was hard to find and quite a jaunt from the train and bus stations, and from the airport. Once you finally arrive you will be disappointed by the piles of trash and dirt that occupy every corner, and the scurrying cock-roaches that act as permanent residents of the bathrooms and dorm rooms. The beds are hard and sheets and blankets are not guaranteed. Meanwhile, you will be close to a park, but nothing else in the city and will spend money on buses or cabs for transportation. Better to stay somewhere closer to downtown that is not infested with insects. Also, this hostel is in the running for ‘worst bathroom in China.’
Captain Hostel on the Bund, Shanghai, China.
This hostel, while nice enough, was massively overpriced. Located on the famous ‘bund’ are of Shanghai, we could not contest the price based on the better-than-expected location, but the service was horrible, there were few additional benefits like laundry, and the location meant a very noisy night. For one night, it was okay but we would not recommend multiple evenings here.
U-Cool Hostel, Shanghai, China.
While the lovely woman who runs the establishment is friendly and sweet, the hostel itself leaves much to be desired. The 6-8 bed dorm rooms are 40RMB a night and there is nothing in the way of additional services like a laundry facility, internet or a bar. We stayed here two weeks (out of necessity and because the owner, Anna, was very friendly, but we missed out on meeting new people and having entertainment. On the up side the location near the Bund was fantastic. Be prepared to spend your time in this hostel with Anna and her two sons as a partial baby-sitter.
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